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In the cold of the night … a Rod Steiger film fest

What do you do to liven cold winter evenings when no one wants to 1) spend money or 2) go outside? Cards and board games help, of course.

What do you do to liven cold winter evenings when no one wants to 1) spend money or 2) go outside? Cards and board games help, of course. My family played a lot of Hand and Hoof over the holidays.

But our most rewarding solution was an impromptu movie series, which we dubbed The Rod Steiger Film Festival in honor of its reason for being.

My husband had been asserting for years that Steiger was one of the finest actors ever on screen; he wanted to show our daughter and me, and picked out five films that would demonstrate Steiger’s range and depth.  

Having started with “The Pawnbroker” and ended with “Doctor Zhivago” — watching “In the Heat of the Night” (for which he won an Oscar), “The Loved One” and “On the Waterfront” in-between — I need no further persuading of Steiger’s prowess, though I’d love to see more. Check out his “Doctor Zhivago” performance in this clip below.

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My film-buff colleague Don Effenberger tells me, however, that we need a festival coda: We missed “No Way to Treat a Lady.”

That sent me to the Internet, of course, to see what else we’d overlooked. Having seen Steiger brilliantly portray a shattered Holocaust survivor, a 1960s Southern sheriff, “Mr. Joyboy” (in which he out-Liberaces Liberace), Marlon Brando’s Mafioso brother and an unsavory Russian aristocrat, I’m ready to see him play Jud Fry in “Oklahoma!”

It was quite a series, and it has spawned a raft of suggestions for a sequel — a Coen Brothers fest perhaps? Or a Dustin Hoffman series?

(Which leads us to ask you: Have you put together such a festival? Do you have suggestions for those of us who might want to get through the month without spending (much) money or going outside? If so, please share them in the Comments section below.)